One of the indies I was looking forward to this summer is My Cousin Rachel. I really disliked Lady Macbeth at Sundance and MCR seemed like a similar style of movie but being based on a Daphne du Maurier novel it might be more to my taste. Today I had the chance to see My Cousin Rachel and it is definitely better than Lady Macbeth but in the end it’s just an ok film not great.
My Cousin Rachel is about a man named Philip (Sam Claflin) who is raised by his cousin. One day he finds out his cousin has married a woman named Rachel (Rachel Weisz) and then quickly died. Philip then rushes to defend his cousin’s honor only to be swept up in the wickedly ways of this woman.
There are a lot of positives to My Cousin Rachel. My favorite part was the beautiful cinematography and production design. It had everything you want in a period piece to feel immersed and swept away. It reminded me of Far From the Madding Crowd from 2015. In fact, there is one scene where they are celebrating with the servants that was nearly identical.
I also thought Rachel Weisz was excellent. She keeps her performance very even-keeled, except for rare moments of theatrics. This is a movie that would be ruined by a loud exasperated performance. It keeps the mystery afloat because she is so sedate and hard to read.
The ending to the film is also surprising, and I like that it didn’t feel the need to answer every question and explain every character’s motivation. It kept it from feeling boring.
The downside is a little hard to talk about without spoilers but I will try. Basically Philip is a complete moron to a point that feels hard to believe. Some of the stuff seemed natural for a man infatuated but other stuff was impossible any sane human being wouldn’t pick up on or question. At one point after a revelation I leaned over to my friend and said ‘Duh!’ because it was so obvious.
It makes it less of a thriller and more of a pathetic romance. You are basically watching this weak loser get manipulated by a strong woman, which is entertaining but not in the way I was anticipating from a Daphne du Maurier thriller.
Also Sam Claflin felt a little out of his league with Weisz. He seemed like a poor man’s Michael Fassbender for most of the film. Maybe if he was a little younger looking like a Tom Holland type it might be more believable? He was so stupid and he didn’t have the gravitas or screen presence to pull off a role like this (like a Fassbender would be able to). I think he is better as a supporting character/love interest like he was in Their Finest.
But all in all, My Cousin Rachel, was an entertaining film. It’s not one I will remember for years to come or anything like that but it’s worth checking out for Rachel Weisz’ performance and beautiful production values.
It’s also not that long for this kind of film (106 minutes) which makes it a decent watch. Still, if they had a more magnetic lead actor and made Philip a little less of a dolt it would have compelled me more, but oh well.
It is rated PG-13 for some sensuality and one scene of violence towards women.
Overall Grade- B-
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